Trina Wembly dreamt of owning a Christian coffee house for years –a Godly place where people could enjoy a good meal, and entertainment that was pleasing to God. A Piece of Heaven is that dream, and Trina the star entertainer.
Jared Larou, the construction foreman who helps design and build the coffee house, is a wounded soul with a soft heart, a soft heart that Trina is drawn to.
Trina knows God is the only one who can heal Jared’s wounded soul. Does she have the faith and patience to wait on God’s will – if it is God’s will?
Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.—Proverbs 3:5
Trina Wembly stared at the name painted on the frosted glass, Dared Construction & Design. This was it, the start of her dream. She took a deep breath and pulled the door open. She hoped everything she’d heard about them was true.
She tugged at her gypsy skirt, smoothed a hand along the soft cotton, and then wrapped the other hand around her leather shoulder bag. Heart pounding, she stepped inside.
Classy, but understated. The reception area was a contrast of styles: elegant, not ostentatious; a bit eclectic, but well blended. She eased her grip as she absorbed the warm atmosphere the company had created.
Framed prints hung on the walls, one by M.C. Escher. She recognized her favorite—Convex and Concave. Others she didn’t recognize with certainty, but would have guessed—Monet and Van Gogh, to name a couple. Intermixed with them were pictures of construction sites, some works in progress, some after completion. All Dared sites. All wonderful pieces of architecture that added to the environment they were in.
From cottage style, to country, to contemporary with a Mediterranean flair—color and texture and style surrounded her. Oh yeah, they could help her create the atmosphere she wanted in A Piece of Heaven, turn her dream into something real. Still, would they be able to get her vision from her simple drawings?
“Can I help you?”
Trina whipped around, a hand to her throat. “Oh, I didn’t hear you.” She looked up, past broad shoulders covered by a white dress shirt that tightened around the man’s upper chest as he crossed his arms. Guaranteed, he didn’t spend all his time behind a desk.
Serious gray eyes stared back. His face settled into a quiet smile as he raised his brows. “Can I help you?”
“Oh, I’m sorry. I have an appointment with...” She fumbled through her bag, searching for the slip of paper she had written on. What was wrong with her? She was never this scatterbrained.
“Are you Ms. Wembly?”
“Yes.” She paused in her search to meet his gaze. “Is it you I’m supposed to meet with?”
This time the smile reached his eyes. He held out his hand. “I’m Jared Larou. You spoke with Dave, but he had to go out of town today, so I’m covering the office. He told me you’d be coming in.”
Her hand was swallowed by his, and a mild shock ran up her arm. “Should I reschedule?”
“No, this is fine. We’re partners and cover for each other, plus work together on every project anyway, so it doesn’t much matter which one of us you meet with initially. We’re both involved in every project eventually.”
“Oh, well, I told him I would bring my rough sketches,” she said as she tugged a folder out of her bag.
He stepped over to the windows and gestured her to a seat at the table as he accepted the folder. He set aside the unsigned blank check she had tucked in and then flipped through the drawings. He glanced up once or twice, but didn’t comment until he reached the last one.
“So this is going to be...”
“A coffee house restaurant.”
“Do you have a location picked out?”
She leaned forward, trying to control her grin as she searched for words to share her dream. “Actually, my grandparents owned a storefront on Center Street. I inherited it—one of the brownstones where there are still cobblestone sidewalks.”
He raised his eyebrows, glanced down at the drawings and back up. “And you want to demolish and renovate?”
“No, no, actually, I want to reconstruct and restore, or whatever you want to call it, so the outside looks like it originally would have—well, other than my sign. I always loved it when I came to visit, and now that it’s mine, I’d like to help breathe a little life back into the area, but leave it looking quaint.”
He closed the folder and sat back. “Are you aware of how many restaurants end up closing within the first year?”
“Due to undercapitalization and high overheads, yes, I am.” She straightened in her chair. “But I don’t intend to fall into either of those quagmires.”
“And do you have the experience to make a go of it during a slow start up?” He lowered his chin to his steepled fingers.
“Look, that’s my problem to deal with. Not yours.” She picked up her bag, blinking her eyes as heat flooded her face. No one was going to steal her dream. “If you don’t want the job you can just say so.” She pushed her chair back, ready to grab her drawings and leave. “I know those aren’t professional drawings—”
He half stood and gestured for her to stay. “Please. I didn’t mean to insult you. We just see so many people with great intentions start on projects like this and either lose interest or financing, or both. In the current economy, it can take some time for a business to become solvent.” He ran a hand through his hair and sighed. “I’m sorry. Maybe I shouldn’t have said anything, but I hate to see anyone lose a dream because of bad timing or poor planning.”
She took a deep breath and slowly settled back down with her bag in her lap. “I assure you, financing is no problem. Between me and my partner, we have restaurant management and culinary aspects covered. We’ve taken all that into consideration and feel we can make this work.”
He flipped open the folder and started asking pointed questions about what her vision entailed, jotting notes as she answered. Finally, he leaned back and met her gaze.
“I’ll have the rough drawings ready in about a week. In the meantime, we’ll start filing for permits to get some of the basic cleanup done since the property’s been vacant…” He glanced at the paperwork again. “For over a year.”
As a smile spread across his face, she sent a prayer of thanks heavenward that he’d accepted the job. She could barely control the urge to clap her hands.
This was really happening—and with the firm she wanted to work with. Their reputation was excellent, and the work she had checked out spoke very highly of their abilities—and one of them was a Christian who attended her church.
After filling out the check for the initial portion of the architectural fees, Trina walked out the door…or maybe floated. When she reached her car, she pulled the cell phone out of her bag and hit speed dial.
“We’re in business. I hope you meant it when you said you were ready anytime. I just signed the papers with the construction company and by this time next year you will be the proud partner of our new coffee house, A Piece of Heaven.”